← Back to Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism Index

Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1953

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1953.” You can view other years here.

Search the content below for specific dates, names, and keywords using the keyboard shortcut Command + F on a Mac or Control + F on Windows.


1953:  4 Apr.:  Creation of 70s “Units.”

“For some time there has been under study by the First Council of the Seventy with the Twelve as to what might be done in behalf of the Seventies who are not affiliated at the present time with any quorum.

In a number of stakes there are no Seventies’ Quorums, and there is no Quorum of Seventy in any mission of the Church.  As a result, at the present time there are many seventies throughout the missions and in some stakes who have no affiliations whatsoever with a quorum.

Now it is felt that every Seventy should be associated with some Seventies’ organization.  In order to correct this it is proposed that in the future there shall be three terms used in connection with the organization of Seventies.

First, the quorum as at present to designate an organization where there exists a majority of Seventy, or 36 or more Seventies in a given stake or mission, in which case they will be organized as a Quorum and so designated.

The term, Unit, is to be used as a name for an organization of Seventies in a stake or a mission where there are less than 36 Seventies, and the term, Group, as at present to designate a segment of either a Quorum or Unit, organized as Priesthood Quorums Groups are now established throughout the Church.

It is expected that there will be no Units organized in any stake where there are more than 36 Seventies, in which event they are to be organized as a Quorum.

In every stake or mission in which there are 36 or more Seventies there shall be organized one or more Seventies’ Quorums, depending on the number of men who are available.

In every stake or mission, then, in which there are not sufficient Seventies to organize a Quorum, there shall be organized a Unit, which will be presided over by a Unit Leader, with two counselors, and they will have the responsibility of carrying on the Seventies’ program very much as the work is carried on by a Quorum of Seven Presidents when it is regularly organized.

When the Unit thus organized reaches a membership of 36 or more, it will then be organized into a Quorum, functioning as other Seventies’ Quorums and given a full council of Seven Presidents to the Quorum.

As a Quorum often consists of two or more groups in the different wards, Units might likewise be made up of groups according to the need and scattered condition of the Unit as it may exist, either in the missions or in the stakes, and each group thus set up will operate under the general direction of a Group Leader and counselors, if desired.

Units will be supervised under the dual direction of the stake or mission president in conjunction with the First Council of the Seventy, as is the case with Seventies’ Quorums throughout the Church.

The Units thus organized will be given consecutive numbers with Quorums, so that if changes come from Units to Quorums there will be no confusion in the numbering system.  However, the number of the Unit will be folowed by a suffix, U, so that the organization may be readily recognized by its number as being a Unit and not a Quorum.

When the Unit grows large enough in numbers to become a Quorum, the suffix, U, will be dropped, and the same number will be retained for the Quorum, thus organized from the said Unit.

Now, President McKay has asked that I make this announcement.  This has been discussed by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve with the First Council of the Seventy, and it will be the recommended procedure hereafter to be followed in organizing the Seventies throughout the Church.”  (Harold B. Lee, 4 Apr., 1953; CR Apr., 1953, p. 51)

1 May:  Who can pray in meetings?

“Q.  We understand in our stake that instructions have gone out from the General Authorities advising that only members of the Priesthood be called upon to open meetings with prayer.  Does that mean that we should not call on women or children to offer the invocation or benediction at Sunday School?

A.  The presiding brethren of the Church have suggested that only Priesthood members be called upon to open or close sacrament meetings with prayer, but this recommendation does not include auxiliary meetings such as Sunday School.  You may, therefore, continue to call on women and children as well as Priesthood members to offer prayers at Sabbath School.”  (Instructor 88(5):139, 1 May, 1953)

21 May:  Don’t be too strict in our prayers and blessings.

“This is a great time to recognize your letter of February 19th.  I found it among my papers a few minutes ago and as I had not check it I felt it went by the board.  I am sorry for this.  The many letters I receive, almost overwhelm me at times, so I know that you will pardon my neglect.

I can only answer your questions as I understand them, although there are some who make take issue with me.  In the 107th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, Verses 22 to 30, it says that the three quorums all are of equal authority.  These are the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Seven Presidents of Seventy.  Realize that Elder James E. Talmage took another view of this situation.  However, the First Seven Presidents of Seventy stand next to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  No other group of men can take their position.

As to the second question, I’ve often administered to another brother when I’ve been alone.  First I would anoint him and then seal the anointing.  Possibly in the same prayer and blessing. If a brother were present, who holds only the Aaronic Priesthood, I would no doubt ask him to lay his hands on the head of the one to be blessed, but, of course, I would be mouth in the blessing.  I hope this clears up the matter for you.

I do believe that we must not be too strict in our prayers and blessings to God.  The Lord will always listen if the proper spirit of divinity is behind the world.

I hope this will make the matter clear to you.  Always be free to write, for your letters are received in gratitude.”  LEY to Keith M. Taylor, 21 May 1953, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 7)

10 Jul.:  Further changes due to Korean War.

“We call your attention to various letters and telegrams sent to you from this office during the past three years with reference to the calling of missionaries who are subject ot Selective Service.  Particularly we invite your attention to our circular letter of March 14, 1952, superseding previous correspondence on the subject, in which we indicated that ‘for the time being, and until further instructions are issued, only those young men within draft age should be recommended for missions whoh ave one of the following Selective Service classifications:

. . . .

From these classifications you may continue to recommend, without limitation as to numbers, such men as you consider worthy to represent the Church.  Local draft boards have uniformly released these for missionary service, since, under present regulations, they are not subject to induction although registered with Selective Service.  However, our experience has shown that there will be relatively few in these categories who will be available to undertake missions.

You will appreciate that since February 1, 1951 we have not called any men of draft age from classifications other than those named above.  The result is that we now have only a few young men in missionary service.

In order to help meet this deficiency we are now altering the program on a restricted basis.  This change will not supply us with the corps of missionaries we have had in past years, but it should help to alleviate the serious impairment of the work that we are suffering by reason of the very limited force now in the field.

We invite your attention to the following Selective Service classifications:

I-A — Subject to induction

I-D — ROTC or other restricted reserve groups

I-S — Statutory deferment–college or high school

II-S — Special student deferment

Young men twenty years of age and over with any one of these Selective Service classifications may be recommended for missionary service under a strict quota basis as follows:

During the remainder of 1953: One man from each ward or independent branch.

Commencing January 1, 1954, and for that year only, or until further instructions are issued: One man from each ward or independent branch, provided, that if in the early part of 1954 circumstances seem to warrant, then two men may be recommended from each ward or independent branch with a population of more than 500 members.

If it is infeasible for any ward to recommend one or two worthy young men, as the case may be, then the stake president may call on another ward within his stake to make up the deficiency, but the quota shall not be transferred from one stake to another, each stake being limited by the number of wards therein.

In giving consideration to prospective missionaries the bishop shall ascertain the draft status of each man by conferring with the local draft board or the clerk of the board before recommending him.  If the bishop is advised by the board, through the clerk or otherwise, that his induction is definitely scheduled within a period of 30 days, then he should not be recommended.  We shall work on a basis under which a young man who is recommended will be allowed to go forward with his missionary arrangements if the date of his official call from the President of the Church is prior to that of his notice of induction from the local draft board, with the provision that his departure for a mission shall occur within a period of 90 days from the date of his call.

. . . .

We are appreciative of the fact that this program will impose upon our bishops and stake presidents the burden of selecting and recommending one or two men, as the case may be, out of an entire ward.  However, the responsibility of recommending missionaries has always involved discriminative selection.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 10 Jul., 1953; xerox)

Aug.:  AP ordinations to be performed promptly.

“One of the features in our work most in need of immediate and constant attention is the matter of ordaining worthy deacons, teachers, and priests according to the age schedule recommended.  Worthy male members of the Church should be ordained deacons at twelve, teachers at fifteen, priests at seventeen, and should be recommended for ordination to elders at nineteen.

We cannot estimate the harm which may be done a worthy young man when ordination to, or advancement in, the Aaronic Priesthood is delayed beyond the time when he knows it is his privilege to receive designated priesthood authority.

Why cannot ordinations within the Aaronic Priesthood be performed for the worthy young men on time?  Our program is set up to guard against such costly neglect or oversight if suggestions are followed.

We depend upon stake and ward leaders to follow the program.  We respectfully urge that this part of our work be given immediate attention and close follow-up at all times in the future.

Our apprehensions grow out of the following figures taken from Form E for 1952:

1. Thirty-three percent of all deacons under 21 are not ordained teachers at fifteen.  However, during the following twelve months, fifty-one percent of the thirty-three percent are advanced to teachers.

2. Thirty-eight percent of all teachers under 21 are not ordained priests at seventeen.  During the following twelve months, however, fifty-four percent of the thirty-eight percent are advanced to priests.

3. Sixty-two percent of all priests under 21 are not advanced to elders at nineteen.  However, during the next year, fifty-nine percent of the sixty-two percent are advanced to elders.

We realize that some may have rendered themselves unworthy of advancement in the priesthood when they reach the proper age.  However, when most of those not advanced on time are ordained during the following year, we are left to conclude that leadership is lagging behind the desired program tempo.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 56(8):596, Aug., 1953)

Aug.:  Bishopric to perform ordinations in AP.

“While priests ‘may ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons,’ it is recommended the bishop and his counselors, as the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward, perform these ordinations.

Worthy fathers who are priests or who bear the Melchizedek Priesthood may ordain their sons if they so desire.

Priests, in their turn, may be invited to stand with the bishopric when ordinations in the Aaronic Priesthood are performed.  Standing in the circle will give the priest valuable training and some experience even though he does not ordain.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 56(8):596, Aug., 1953)

18 Sep.:  Can a High Councilor direct the Seventies?

“I wish to thank you for the lovely time I had at the Sharon Stake Conference.  I assure you that I was impressed with the manner in which you are directing things.  The people have a great love for you and that is the most important thing of all.  The Spirit of the meeting was beautiful.  I never judge a conference by the reports or statistics but the spirit of the people is the thing that counts.

When you are in Salt Lake I should like to see you concerning the Seventy’s meeting with Brother Lawrence M. Palmer presiding, at the meeting I had the impression that he was a member of the quorum of Seventy’s but when he told me he was a High Councilor I was very much surprised.  Your question of a member of the High Council directing the Seventy’s is a serious question.  However, when you are in Salt Lake come in and see me and again let me thank you for the lovely Conference.

God bless you.  Remember me please to your counselors.  I also appreciate them very much.  They are worthy men.”  (LEY to President Philo T. Edwards, 18 Sep 1953, Levi Edgar Young Papers, Utah State Historical Society, B12, Box 7)

2 Oct.:  48 men/quorum will have no other assignment.

“I estimate that there are in each quorum of the Melchizedek Priesthood, an average of forty-eight men who will not, normally, have direction from any ecclesiastical heads as to what they shall do except by their quorum presidents.  They will not be used by bishops i the wards; they will not be used by the stake officers; and if they have any assigned tasks, it will be because the presidents of their quorums assign them.  Therein, in my opinion, lies the acid test of quorum leadership.”  (S. Dilworth Young, 2 Oct., 1953; CR Oct., 1953, p. 17)

3 Oct.:  Importance of quorum work.

“Now there are opportunities for further perfecting our work, and those opportunities rest in large measure with our presiding brethren.  I would like to say just a word to the presidencies of quorums.  These quorums of priesthod, as you are all aware, are designated of the Lord.  They are substantially the only organizations among us, other than that of the general organization of the Church, which have been specifically mentioned in the revelations.  The Lord must have set great store by these marvelous institutions which he created.  He knew in the beginning that his priesthood would be the basic foundation of his work.  I was thinking tonight if Joseph and those associated with him in the beginning of the work could witness what we see tonight, this great demonstration of power, resident within God’s Holy Priesthood, and perhaps they do see it, how gratified they would be.

And here is a great reservoir of power to be utilized for the advancement of our Father’s Kingdom.  Upon the quorum rests the largest measure of that responsibility.  I am persuaded that no other organization can or ought to take their place, because they constitute the Lord’s grouping of the manpower of his Church.  Upon the presidencies of quorums rests the responsibility of seeing that their quorums function properly.

We used to have years and years ago, when the Priesthood Committee of the Church was first organized; many may remember it; President McKay will, a very concise and comprehensive definition of a quorum.  We used to say it is three things: A class, a fraternity, and a service unit.  And so we sought to group around these headings the responsibilities of the men of the quorum.  And while there has grown out of the original concept a more elaborate organization, I am persuaded that if we could make our quorums serve the functions indicated by those three things we should accomplish much for the members and for the Church.

I am thoroughly persuaded that we can learn the gospel in our quorums, and thus comply with the revelation that men are ‘to learn their duties.’  When men profess that some of the courses of study are a little intricate and difficult, I think of the days in Kirtland when a few men of meager learning and education had what seems to be the effrontery and boldness to set about to learn Hebrew, and you will recall how in the School of the Prophets, they engaged a Professor Seixas to teach them Hebrew in order that they might the better interpret God’s word.  We can learn.  We can learn by study.  We can learn the fundamental things that we need to know as members of God’s Holy Priesthood.  And we can learn about the apostasy, which is essential for us to understand in order that we comprehend in its fulness the restoration and be fortified to defend the restoration in the latter days.

And I take the liberty of urging you men, through your quorum presidencies, to see to it that your teachers study, that they receive the instruction which is provided for them, and the facilities which have been maintained in order to give them a concept of these great truths and to teach them intelligently to those who come to the classes.  The more we make our classes worth while to the members, the more readily will they come, and the greater the value they will receive from them.

Now, I don’t know that it is possible for any organization to succeed in the Church under the priesthood without adopting the genius of our Church government.  What is that?  As I conceive it, the genius of our Church government is government through councils.  The Council of the Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, the Council of the Stake Presidency, or quorum, if you choose to use that word, the Council of the Bishopric, and the quorum of Council of the Quorum Presidency.  I have had enough experience to know the value of councils.  Hardly a day passes but that I see the wisdom, God’s wisdom, in creating councils: to govern his Kingdom.  In the spirit under which we labor, men can get together with seemingly divergent views and far different backgrounds, and under the operation of that spirit, by counseling together, they can arrive at an accord, and that accord, (the occasions are so negligible as not to be mentioned) and therefore I say that accord is always right.  That accord represents the wisdom of the council, acting under the Spirit.

Now, brethren of priesthood quorum presidencies: You need those councils, and I have no hesitancy in giving you the assurance, if you will confer in council as you are expected to do, God will give you solutions to the problems that confront you with reference to your quorums.  And he will enable you to find ways and means of approaching the men whom you would like to reach to bring them into accord with your quorum, and have them enjoy its spirit.  I am sure we can go out and get many of these men.  My heart is always troubled for the unusually large number of our elders who do not ally themselves with the quorum and secure the spirit and the benefit to be had therefrom.  I am not at all persuaded that these are bad men, but I am persuaded that they are negligent often and forgetful and neglectful, and they need your care.  And the quorum presidency, no matter how many committees you appoint, the quorum presidency is responsible for every man in the quorum; and I am sure you cannot be relieved of that responsibility, although you will want the help of all those who may come to your assistance.

And I am persuaded too that if you approach many of these men in frankness and true friendship, you will touch their hearts.  I have long been persuaded that it is something of a waste of time to go to a man’s home who has been neglectful and spend the time in talking about the weather or the crops or politics or something else.

I always admired my dear brother, the President of the Church, George Albert Smith.  I have been with him on many occasions.  I have seen him meet many old friends, and I frequently have seen him take their hand, and ask the first question, not how are you getting along, which usually means how much money are you making, but ‘How are you feeling in the Church?’  I have seen him ask that of business men.  I have been with him on the streets of this city and had him meet a business man and say, ‘Well, how are you feeling in the Church?’  It was a direct approach, and one usually that brought a response that probably made the man search his conscience, and that is what we need to do with these men, to get them to search their own conscience, and make their own decisions to avail themselves of these glorious opportunities that we bring to them.”  (Stephen L. Richards, 3 Oct., 1953; CR Oct., 1953, pp. 85-87)

Nov.:  What are pastors and evangelists?

“Question:  Why do we not have pastors and evangelists in the Church as mentioned in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s thirteenth Article of Faith?  If they are other names for bishops and missionaries, why then don’t we call them such?

Answer:  The dictionary definition of a pastor is a correct one even from our understanding of this term; it is ‘a Christian minister who has a church or congregation under his official charge.’  The term pastor does not refer to an order in the priesthood, like deacon, priest, elder, seventy, and so on, but is a general term applied to an officer who presides over a ward, branch in a mission or a stake, and it could even be applied to a president of a stake.  There are several references to pastors in the Old Testament, particularly in the Book of Jeremiah.  I quote one or two of these showing that this is a general term applied to the priests and teachers in Israel, and not to an order of the priesthood:

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall fed you with knowledge and understanding.  (Jeremiah 3:15.)

For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.  (Jeremiah 10:21.)

As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.  (Jeremiah 17:16.)

From these passages you will see that it is clear that the Lord has reference to the priests and rulers over the children of Israel and not to an order, or office, in the priesthood.  The Prophet Joseph Smith was following Paul’s expression (Eph. 4:11) and had reference to those who had jurisdiction over the flocks (Jer. 23:1-2), or branches of the Church.  We can say truthfully that a bishop is a pastor; so is an elder who has charge of a branch of the Church, or a president of a stake who has direction of a number of wards and branches.

According to the dictionary and the generally accepted view of the word, evangelist, it is ‘a preacher who goes from place to place holding services especially with a view of church revivals.’  He is a ‘preacher of the gospel.’  The term, evangel, means gospel, or good news.

Now consult your dictionary [Funk & Wagnall Standard Dictionary] further and you will find this: ‘A Mormon officer of the Melchizedek or Higher Priesthood, whose special function is to bless.’  After reading this, turn to page 381, Volume 3, of the Documentary History of the Church, or to Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 151, and you will find the Prophet’s explanation in relation to the evangelist.  In case you do not have these books I will quote the passage for you.

An Evangelist is a Patriarch, even the oldest man of the blood of Joseph or of the seed of Abraham.  Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessings unto his sons.”

(Joseph Fielding Smith, “Your Question,” IE 56(11):826, Nov., 1953)

Nov.:  Weekly presidency meetings urged.

“The General Authorites of the Church of Jesus Christ once again remind the presidencies of all Melchizedek Priesthood quorums that it is the policy of the Church that a presidency council meeting be held once each week.  (See Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, page 21.)  It is suggested that either Sunday afternoon or a certain evening be set aside for the holding of these meetings.

Not only should all Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies hold weekly council or presidency meetings, but bishoprics and stake presidencies should also hold council meetings once each week.  In fact, experience has proved that weekly council meetings are necessary for the proper and most efficient conducting of the various organized groups in the Church.”  (“Melchizedek Priesthood,” IE 56(11):868, Nov., 1953)

Dec.:  Women not authorized to handle tithes.

“Bishops should exercise care in appointing persons to receive tithes.  Tithes should only be received by members of the bishopric, the clerk, or a high priest appointed by the bishop.

Women are not authorized to receive or handle tithing.  This includes wives of bishops and wives of bishops’ counselors.”  (“The Presiding Bishopric’s Page,” IE 56(12):994, Dec., 1953)